Since we moved to Baltimore, one thing that the husband I have missed is being missed by others. It gives you a lot of time to think about stuff, and it is incredibly lonely. You try and you hope, but in Baltimore, the social convention is not to accept an invitation from someone you just met in the last five years. You have to know them a good ten years before things jell.
At some point, the dogs start talking to you, and I know this for a fact. No, they aren't replying to your own personal mutterings. They are asking questions, and sometimes you think you can hear them plotting, sotto voce of course on how to get treats and different ploys to try and get you to feed them treats for the slightest movement that looks like a behavior that should be rewarded.
Sometimes the up and start barking for no reason, tear down the stairs and you swear the little one (who is part Jack Russell) say barking "SOMEWHERE OUT THERE SOMETHING JUST HAPPENED!"
And our other dog, who is just as protective but not as intent will answer back "ARE WE DOING THIS, AGAIN?"
Just as I imagine they are talking to each other, I imagine that the reason why we're so isolated in the middle of a big city could be the people who live here, or us.
Both the Husband and I are introverts at heart, and neither of us is great attracting new friends. And we're Midwesterners, and we seem to pose a social problem because, as one of the neighbors said when we threw a cocktail party that brought people together from two different neighborhoods, the reaction was like "You mean Upper Scunthorpe and those Lower Scunthorpe people? Together? In the same house? Is this a Midwestern thing?" never mind that all of the people lived on the same road, but there was this imaginary line that simply couldn't be crossed.
So we threw the party and people seemed to have a lovely time. And we were having a lovely time until a woman named Sandra from Lower Thorpe was preparing to leave and mentally girding her loins to cross the impenetrable imaginary divide, stopped and said - rather cattily - "who would have thought that a Midwestern person would move here just to upset the social apple cart."
I really hope she got her twaddle all caught up in that impenetrable imaginary line in the middle of the road.
Anyway, when you throw or attend a party, you'll see the people who attract other people. These are the extroverts. They thrive in that type of environment. "Vonda! I have seen in forever! Let's do a lunch. Let me grab a drink and I'll come back and we'll just catch up. Oh, Marty, over here with Vonda. You too don't know each other? You must meet her and you two will become the best of friends!"
Being busy, going out, bringing people together and attending shows and exhibits and sporting events really energize the extrovert. Speaking in front of a thousand people? Awesome! Go out for dinner and dancing that night, "count me in!"
An introvert can speak in front of a thousand people and be totally dynamic, but its preceded by a countdown of worries and dread, and immediately afterward, you have to go into seclusion to recover and get re-centered.
But at a party, find the extroverts. Either they are at ease in a crowd and know how to send off a vibe that says "Well step right over here and let's get to know one and other," or that have some invisible magnetic energy that just draws strangers to them.
If they aren't that type of extrovert, but they home in on you and develop an instant rapport, you have either found a friend and/or acquired a sociopath. If its a friend, you, the introvert is set.
But if it's not, and it’s the kind of person that just bonds with you too easily, seems to know everywhere you 've ever visited, tells fabulously funny ("Then I got off the ship in Tierra del Feugo in Chile, of all places, and said 'how much do I owe you for going out of your way?'") stories that don't have a shred of honesty and even the "A's" and the "the's" are lies as well. The type that just loves that Limoges finger bowl that your great-grandmother left you. Really loves it. And keeps talking about how pretty it is.
About a month after the party, you notice that the place where you kept that bowl – that you only have because it’s a family piece – is empty.
Eventually, you find the little Limoges finger bowl, right where the sociopath put it, and it's sitting on their coffee table. You get a phone call that starts out "Hi, Vonda. You know how you were telling me that you misplaced that little piece of china from your mother's house? Well, I was just over and she has one just like it. She said she picked it up someplace. Isn't that strange? You lose one and she finds one..."
You either have to confront them or, when they leave the room to get more ice you poke it into your pocket and either dash out the door or you sit there - continuing the visit as if something never happened.
If you are lucky, it really is your piece of Limoges and you know better than to ever let that person back in your house. If you find your great grandmother's Limoges bowl in a place where you could have poked it had you not been so damn drunk at your own party, now you have a real problem. You have stolen something from some else's house makes you a thief, and how do you return the stolen goods without being found out.
You decide that it has to go back where it belongs because you aren't the type of person who would corner the market on Limoges finger bowls, that would be crazy, right?
Of course your fingerprints and DNA are going to be on that box so you run to the store in Pennsylvania to buy a box, and a box of latex gloves so the security camera at the store that is near your home like someone who is not as cunning as you are, doesn't get your face that can be used as evidence. That way you can pack the box in a sterile environment, but it will make the post office employees in Washington, D.C. look at you strangely like "Why is that oddball wearing gloves and what is in that box?" to which to their co-worker will say "maybe they are freaks about germs."
For a return address, what to do, what to do? You could choose something local, but they could look that up on Zillow and look through the listing and say "God, no wonder they stole this." Or, you chose something from that night - one of the lies that they told you. I mean who goes to Tierra del Fuego, you say to yourself, and then it's on the box, "That'll teach 'um." You are too witty you say out loud under your breath, and the dogs, who are looking right at you, agree by pawing at your legs. This is their way of showing approval you think. Or it could be their way of saying "No, really; I have to go out, now."
Relieved that you got the box in the mail, you are driven crazy by the idea that you can't check the tracking on the package because then someone will have evidence of your ISP and looking at where the package is. So you start walking your dogs around the block when you see the postal truck in the neighborhood and start cruising by the neighbor's house waiting for the box to be delivered, but you have to be cool about it. There are those older people on the block that keep watch on what is going on in the neighborhood. When they are break-ins on the block, everyone is grateful for these people because they see everything. But now, its paranoia and pain that won't go away.
Finally, the box arrives. But no one takes it in. What in the world are they doing? What's wrong with them, you wonder. So, being the take charge kind of person that you are, you walk down to their house, backbone rigid, and pick up the box and carry it back to your house. Now you decide to write a note, one that says "Hi, I noticed that the post office dropped the box off and with all the funny stuff going on with people taking packages I thought better safe than sorry. Call me at 555-1212 when you get home and I'll bring it over."
Then you wait and wait and wait, and wait some more and FINALLY, the sociopath show up at your door and say "I got a box? I wasn't expecting anything and of course, you have to play dumb because you are in this too deep for anything to go wrong. So what do you do?
You panic, of course, and invite this person into your house for a Nespresso, because you were always taught to let someone in; if you didn't that would be rude. I mean they're the crazy one, not you. They come in and they set the box down your kitchen island and say "This has got me bamboozled. I don't know this address, why would anyone at that address send me anything?"
You set the hot coffee cup down for them and look at the return address and it says "Tierra del Fuego, Argentina." You say "Wow that has really traveled quite a distance." And the sociopath says "Well I did a stopover in Tierra del Fuego, but it was on the Chile side, I never crossed into Argentina..."
OK, shit! Who in the world knows that they are two countries laying claim to neighboring tiny dots of land on a map? Fuck, now it's all going wrong!
Inside you are panicking but strangely, on the outside, you are calm and controlled. Because “they” are the crazy ones, not you. No, if you were insane then they would have figured it out. Oh, no. But you have to get that person out-of-your-house, like now, because they cannot open that box in your home.
"Well," says you, "I hate to rush and I love talking to you, but I have to go to the grocery store. Dinner, you know." And they ask if you would mind their tagging along and you say "NO!" because you go to a special market up in Bel Air.
"Bel Air? What's in Bel Air at this time of the day?"
Fuck, it's like five of five and driving 20 miles to Bel Air, Maryland, to grab a dinner is a three-hour proposition like a cruise on the S.S. Minnow! All that crosstown traffic and then I-95 will be a parking lot.
So you think about what odd thing you can only get in Bel Air and it's "Goat. We love goat and I have a farmer just outside of Bel Air that raises goat and it is low fat, tastes just like chicken."
By this point, you may have crossed a line. Sure, Nathalie Dupree has a recipe of goat in the cookbook on the shelf you are looking at, but who eats goat?
So you get the crazy person out of your house and now you have to disappear for three hours and your husband is going to wonder where you are and what if he goes to the sociopath's house and asks where you are and they say you "went to Bel Air to buy you goat because you love it so much and he says well yeah, I love baby goats and they say "but you're having it for dinner," and he says "NO!" because the idea of eating an adorable baby goat is beyond his comprehension.
"I love baby goat yoga where the crawl all over you, not to eat them" and they look at each other like what the fuck.
And that's exactly why it's so hard for us to meet new people and make friends when you are an introvert. When you're an introvert, all that is simply exhausting. Frankly, I don't know how they do it. I'd rather just stay home and play Scrabble where your words all have to be in the dictionary or an agreed on, like a subset - like all the words have to be onomatopoeia or words that all begin with a vowel or something.
As for Vonda, on the other hand, she's getting help. Poor dear. Seems that she has some sticky finger problem and her second personality most likely stole that piece of china from a resale shop up in Happy Valley, after seeing it and it brought back memories at how much that person admired it. So she took it and then gave it to the Vagabond Woman as a house-warming present. Her main personality turned herself in. Never would have thought it was Vonda in a million years.
Trust me when I say this, but sometimes, I just rather be alone.